I’m a math tutor.
My preference is Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus.
I don’t really like Algebra I (I liken it to teaching someone the mechanics of riding a bike, but not actually letting them HAVE the bike. Very frustrating both to teach and to learn, because you can’t actually tell them WHY they’re learning this until much, much later).
But I LOVE Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus, at all levels (honors and regular).
Lately, I have noticed a pattern. I often have students that will stay with me all the way through high school, and this is great! Job security! Woowoo! They don’t use me to *teach*, but they use me to help get an edge/boost their grade a bit. I like that — much better use of a tutor, IMHO.
But I primarily tutor at a college prep school. Which means that most of these kids are tracked to take Calculus their senior year.
For the most part I’ve been able to avoid Calculus thus far. I took AP Calc AB in high school, and then Calc I, II, III in college. So I’ve HAD it. I just don’t particularly LIKE it. Mostly because it’s all so very abstract and hard to draw and explain in visual terms. I’m a visual teacher. Drawing in three dimensions on a flat surface (like a piece of paper) is a bit of a PITA. I’m an artist. So drawing isn’t hard. But the conceptual aspect of it? DIFFICULT. And very difficult to get across in 45 minutes per week.
Which leads me to my complaint.
I’m picking up more and more calculus students.
Year before last, I had my first. Luckily, I boosted her enough that she was able to manage on her own and I got fired. Weird job — the GOAL is to get fired. Go figure.
Last year, I had an AP student for the first time. And 2 other “regular-level” calc students (i.e. not AP, meaning they’ll have to take Calc I in college to get any credit for it). Last year’s AP student (AP AB, so college Calc I level) passed me in April, but he was reviewing for the AP test by then so it was OK. I was able to help him review, he ended up with a 5 on the test, and all is good.
This year, I started with one AP AB (Calc I) and one AP BC (Calc I and II). And now I have a total of four AP students. The BC kid has already gone past what I did last year, but I’m managing to stay with him (so far)… I keep telling him that he’s going to pass me soon.
HOLY CRAP (poop) these kids ask hard questions. And just when I think I’ve got it and can explain it well, they throw me a curve and I’m all confused again.
I *want* to be able to tutor calculus — there is a LOT of money in this because not a lot of people out there can DO this — but MAN. I didn’t expect to be doing CALCULUS homework when I was 35!
My brain hurts.
Luckily, the parents of the AP BC kid have said that they’re paying me as much to help their son make connections (i.e. figure it out on his own) as they are paying me to actually teach him. So he teaches me as much as I teach him. Tonight we had a good session, because we BOTH walked away feeling like we understood it better. So that’s cool.
I do have to say that I *REALLY* love teaching the super-bright kids, because they keep me so challenged. It’s SO much more fun for my nerd heart to have these kids ask me questions I have to go research than it is to answer the “where’d you get the x?” questions I used to get in the classroom (seriously).
But MAN. I need a drink. LOL